Bath calls for immediate rate relief for Gippsland farmers

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on the State Minister for Agriculture, Hon Jaclyn Symes to bring a rate relief package in her kit bag when visiting Gippsland later this week.

During an adjournment debate in parliament, Ms Bath spoke on the shocking plight of farming families in Central and East Gippsland.

“Our region has received minimal to no rain over the past two years and farmers are facing heart breaking and devastating drought conditions,” said Ms Bath.

“Farmers face paddock after paddock of nothing but dirt and dried up dams. They are exhausted by the daily struggle of keeping condition on their diminished stock and the challenge of paying mounting bills.

“Farmers are resilient, innovative and fiercely determined but this drought and the financial burden of buying fodder and water month after month is taking a harsh toll on both their farming operations and mental health.

“Farming families are asking for genuine assistance from the state government not just one event ‘pick-me ups’ and forums.

“In September 2018 the then State Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said, ‘We are in September now and rates aren’t due until February. Until we know what the rainfall is going to do, making a decision on rates is premature’.

“The end of February is around the corner and farm rates are now due.

“Minister Symes who visited Gippsland in December must do more than simply acknowledging the dire situation farmers are facing.

“The fact that Minister Symes failed to make any reference to farm rate relief during a drought assistance update in state parliament yesterday only adds to farmers’ distress.

“Gippsland farmers are financial stretched and the local agriculture industry is facing crisis.

“I am calling on Minister Symes to bring a comprehensive rate relief package for farmers when she visits our region later this week.”